Yogurt is one of my favorite foods to eat on a daily basis, but I also have many ways to cook with yogurt that I enjoy. Though I like to eat plant sources of protein whenever possible, plain yogurt has always been something I enjoy on occasion. I like to buy the unsweetened versions to avoid added sugar, and love the good source of protein and probiotics in yogurt. If you don’t tolerate dairy yogurt, you can still use other types of yogurt, such as coconut, almond or soy-based yogurt, when you try these ideas and ways to cook with yogurt below. Adding yogurt to cooked dishes does kill the healthy probiotics, but still gives you a rich, creamy source of protein that makes many dishes phenomenal in flavor, nutrition and texture.
One of the first ways to cook with yogurt I ever tried was in a muffin recipe, and it was one of the best I’ve tried yet. Muffins are so fun to make for a few reasons, but mostly because they are easy to take on the go with you whenever you need a healthy treat, and you can put anything you want in them. They’re the perfect vehicle to get in healthy ingredients all in one nice little package. I like to use yogurt in my muffins in place of half the liquid called for. It makes the muffins much denser and moister, instead of drier in flavor. You can also use yogurt as a replacement to butter or oil. It will increase the moisture content, while removing the unhealthy dense fats.
Did you know you can cook eggs with yogurt? Most people don’t know this, but it’s a great little trick I learned awhile back. When making baked eggs, scramble them first with about ¼ cup yogurt per 2 eggs. Then bake and you have this incredible moist baked egg dish that is just to die for! You can also scramble eggs with about ¼ cup per 2 eggs to make them nice and creamy so they won’t be dry. If you’re making quiche, feel free to add in yogurt as well to the dish, along with the other ingredients. Your eggs won’t taste like yogurt, but will simply have this rich, creamy flavor that is unbelievably amazing!
Making cupcakes for someone special? Add in a dollop of yogurt! The acids in the milk will help to increase moisture and provide a plump, dense texture. If a recipe calls for sour cream, just use yogurt instead. It all works the same! Yogurt is a little sweeter than sour cream, which I prefer, and is lower in fat if you buy the fat-free plain varieties.
4. Healthy Frosting
One of my favorite tricks is to make healthy frosting with Greek yogurt. I use plain Greek yogurt, add in stevia, vanilla extract, and mix it all with a vanilla protein powder in the blender. It comes out this rich, plump texture and makes the perfect frosting. Just be sure to chill it before you serve it so it doesn’t melt!
I love to make healthy cookies, and always use yogurt, whether it be vegan or dairy-based, in my cookie recipes. It makes them incredibly rich and moist, while lowering the fat content. I just replace the oil or butter in my cookies with yogurt, add in some applesauce or bananas for extra sweetness, and then add some stevia. It makes the richest, densest cookie, and is lower in calories than butter or oil.
If you’re cooking up some oatmeal, good for you! Oats are a great source of healthy fiber and antioxidants, and they lower your cholesterol. Here’s a tip for cooking oatmeal that you might not know. Cooking oats with yogurt makes them extra creamy, and can lower their glycemic rating due to the protein in yogurt. If you’re cooking oats on the stove top, add yogurt after the oats have almost completely cooked, stirring it in right before you’re done. You just want to add it to your oats long enough to cream everything together. I recommend leaving your yogurt at room temperature if you want to use it as a healthy topping. Just add it when you’re done, right on top!
7. Quick Breads
Anytime I make a quick bread for someone, like banana bread, blueberry bread, or pumpkin bread, I always add yogurt. It works the same way as cooking muffins with yogurt. You simply add it in to your recipe, or use it to replace the butter or oil in equal amounts. You can also substitute half the liquid with yogurt. Adding yogurt to your quick breads really enhances the flavor, moisture and overall texture. I highly recommend it!
I always recommend avoiding yogurts with any added ingredients or sugar. The only ingredient should be nonfat milk and cultures, or at least 2% milk and cultures. Buy organic if you can to avoid nasty hormones, and go Greek for higher protein. My favorite brands are Stonyfield Organic Oikos 0%, Chobani 0% and Fage 0% or 2%. Have you ever cooked with yogurt before?